“For you must have double the failures to have double the success”
Just a few hours ago, someone said this in a speech to group of retired educators, their families and friends, at a function in their honour. He could not have known the MANY mistakes that I made in attempting to organize this function and the tears and frustration that accompanied it.
It’s hard to appreciate these sentiments when you are 1. a perfectionist, and 2. someone who likes control.
We humans, are our worst critic. I chuckle at the thought, because I know it to be true. I don’t think that anyone berates us as hard as we do when we make mistakes. Perhaps its imagining the criticism that makes us so hard on ourselves, as we imagine others taking our mistakes apart and wondering “How could he/she make such an error?”.
But there is that word: error or mistake. As much as I hate making them, I’ve come to realize that they are teaching tools, moments in our lives when we are afforded an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves and of those around us. These are occasions that we may term ‘on the job experience’, as we navigate the varied experiences of life, that we have to work through.
You have to go through to grow through – if you never made a mistake in your life it means that either a) you are blind to your own mistakes and your Johari Window needs to be opened up, b)people are afraid of you ( because life always presents someone ready, willing and able to quickly and clearly point out your mistakes) and are talking behind you back or c) you have made mistakes but refuse to acknowledge them. Neither of these scenarios are acceptable for it would mean that our development has been arrested – we are not experiencing growth in key areas of our lives.
As one who has had a few doozies throughout my life, here is my advice:
Mistakes will happen. There is no way to avoid them. Accept them as a foundation for success.
Don’t take yourself or it too seriously. In Jamaica we say ” If it no tek life and cause death, it no serious (if it doesn’t threaten yours or anyone’s life or causes death, it’s not that serious). And that is true. Mistakes tend to cause us some periods of emotional and psychological discomfort but that’s how it is. Does this mean you are to be nonchalant? Absolutely not. For some errors do have serious consequences. For those that do have serious consequences, identify solutions, apply them quickly so you can move on to the next experience. The thing to do is learn from it and move on. Don’t allow them to become what defines you.
Learn from it and move on. Quickly. This part needs no explanation. We already know that dwelling on it only makes it seem worse than it probably is. So if you can, put it behind you as quickly as possible (hopefully those concerned will allow you to).
If you can, don’t make mistakes that you will live to regret. This means that you will have to take care to examine choices before making a decision, if time allows. And time always allows. It doesn’t necessarily mean days, hours or weeks. Just take a moment to breathe and think. Otherwise, it means that you are acting impulsively.
Ah, if only I had taken this advice myself not long ago. But then again, I would not have learnt.
Teachable moments. Such is life.